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First Impressions: 2017 KTM RC 390 and RC 200

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  • First Impressions: 2017 KTM RC 390 and RC 200



    In 2014, xBhp had ridden the KTM RC 390 and 200, the first proper sportbikes in the country. Bikes which were completely at home on the track. They were a bargain at the price point and gave enthusiasts a very different tool to play with! It was however time for the Austrian manufacturer to up the ante and ensure the new bike is fully loaded for the track, straight out of the factory!

    The 2017 bikes are an evolution of the original, a lot has changed in the RC 390, but the base motorcycle is the same at the heart of it. The bike feels familiar, for better or worse. We therefore will concentrate our attention on the differences and not the similarities!











    The other big ticket update that the bike got was the addition of a slipper clutch. A slipper clutch helps in downshifting, especially on a track. When you downshift at high RPM, there is a difference between the engine speed and the rear tyre speed as the lower gear is engaged. This difference in speed causes the rear wheel to lose traction and skip out. Very unnerving when the rider is focussing on braking for that next corner. The old school method is to blip the throttle while downshifting so as to match the revs of the engine to the speed of the tyre. Now this job is done by the slipper clutch, which does exactly what its name suggests. It slips the clutch if the wheel speed is more than the engine speed, till the speeds are similar, where the clutch once again engages. How useful is this in real world riding conditions? Honestly, you rarely ever will find yourself hammering down through the gears while riding on public roads. The biggest benefit as per me is mid-corner. When you find yourself one gear too high in the corner while leaned over, you can easily downshift and still hold your line. Without the slipper clutch, a downshift would most probably throw you off-line. That itself is worth the extra monies you pay for it!



    The other notable change is the downgraded speed rating for the Metzeler rubber that the RC 390 now sports. Though it still is comfortably capable of handling the top speeds that the RC is capable of managing. On the 1 km long straight, I managed to hit 160 kmph on the speedo, well below the 210 kmph that the tyres are rated for. And to bring you back to reality in a hurry, KTM has popped in 20mm larger discs, with the bike now sporting a 320mm disc up front. A very welcome addition, which now gives the bike the same kind of urgency in braking as it possesses in the handling and acceleration department. Other improvements we found on the bike were a super smooth gearbox, and this was at the end of the day after a bunch of media people had already spent the day thrashing the bikes around the Chakan track, and a bike which started on the first touch of the starter button. The KTMs no longer a 3 second bike, a 3 second to start bike, that is!






    The 2017 KTM RC 390 is now fully loaded for the track. The playground for which it was built. You can pretty much ride the bike as is on the track and still have a blast. Safely! The 390 does feel like a proper upgrade over its predecessor, with the inclusion of RBW and a slipper clutch, along with the other useful additions like the RVMs and adjustable clutch and brake levers. The 200 would have been even better if better brakes and tyres were provided, at least as an option. Currently it is old wine in a new bottle. But still good wine!

    Photos: Vivek Bhandwalkar & Ashish Kulkarni

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    The Adjustable Clutch Lever. Same is the case with the front brake lever.



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    The new RVM, with increased visibility of those you leave behind!



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    The rear brake remains the same, while the front disc is increased by 20mm

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    The pillion hangs onto these for dear life as you redline the bike!

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    Finishing looked good.

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    The rear brake, something I failed to use most of the time!

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    The confidence inspiring Metzelers

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    The plastic shrouds should help prevent dirt getting into the suspension

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    If you are 5'11", that's where your knees are going to reach. You might want to do something to protect the paint!

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    The redesigned narrower section at the bottom

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    The redesigned narrower section at the bottom

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    The saddle gets an extra 12mm of padding

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    The new side mounted exhaust

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    More plastic shrouds to help keep the dirt away

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    You might want to grab that .....

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    No change here. Except you get live fuel efficiency!


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    For those interested in knowing what the Chakan track looks like!

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    Riding Gear: Spartan Pro Gear. MT Helmets. Orazo Boots
    Biking is not about what you have between your legs, its all about how well you use it!!!!!!!

    Give your details here if you want to help your fellow xBhpian stranded in your city

    Touring Blog: Cycling in Mongolia!
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